Postgraduate Course

MA Scriptwriting

(Theatre and Digital Media)

MA Scriptwriting

Overview

The details
Scriptwriting (Theatre and Digital Media)
October 2022
Full-time
1 year
Colchester Campus

Develop as a scriptwriter by learning with professional and award-winning dramatists. On our MA Scriptwriting (Theatre and Digital Media) you produce a varied portfolio of dramatic works, culminating in a full-length original script, whether for the stage, screen, radio or television, which will enable you to hone and develop your own unique voice.

At Essex, we believe that the joint engagement of practice and theory produces a deep understanding of how drama works. We combine critical study of dramatic texts with practical workshops, so that you nurture your understanding of the scriptwriter’s craft in order to produce your own new work.

Our course focuses on the range of possibilities that exist for contemporary drama, with an emphasis on British and Irish drama, and you also explore topics including:

  • The principles of dramatic structure and scene construction (dialogue, the construction of plot, the development of character, development of themes, and the structure of scenes)
  • The origins and possibilities of poetic theatre and verse drama
  • Writing and developing screenplays
  • Options for poetic practice or novel-writing
  • Your dissertation gives you the chance to write a full-length script with one-to-one supervision from an award-winning scriptwriting tutor.

    We are ranked third in the UK for drama in the Guardian University Guide 2021 and top 20 for dance, drama and cinematics in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021.

    Why we're great.
    • Receive one-to-one supervision from an award-winning writing tutor
    • Attend master classes led by professional writers and practitioners
    • Join our Student Company and get involved in both front-of-house and behind-the-scenes work
    THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

    Our expert staff

    Our academic tutors include:

    • Professor Jonathan Lichtenstein is a playwright who has written for Radio 4 and the National Theatre. His awards include a Fringe First at the Edinburgh Festival and his plays have been performed internationally.
    • Elizabeth Kuti is also a playwright. She has won the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and the Stewart Parker Radio Award; and has been commissioned by the National Theatre; the Abbey Theatre, Dublin; and BBC radio. She also writes and researches in the field of eighteenth-century theatre.
    • Liam Jarvis is Artistic Director of Analogue Theatre and a playwright and theatre practitioner. He also writes and publishes widely on contemporary theatre theory and practice.

    We also invite professional playwrights and other relevant practitioners to provide you with specialist master classes. Recent class leaders have included David Eldridge, Paul Sirett, Lisa Goldman, David Thacker, Mike Attenborough, Annie Castledine, Bobby Baker, Robert Holman, Tony Casement, Steve Waters and Gari Jones.

    Specialist facilities

    • Our on-campus Lakeside Theatre is a major venue for drama, staging productions by professional touring companies and new work written, produced and directed by our own staff and students
    • Our Student Company runs weekly practical workshops, enabling drama enthusiasts to get involved in both front-of-house and behind the scenes
    • Our Research Laboratory allows you to collaborate with professionals, improvising and experimenting with new work as it develops
    • Access the University’s Media Centre, equipped with state-of-the-art studios, cameras, audio and lighting equipment, and an industry-standard editing suite
    • Write for our student magazine REBEL or host a REBEL Radio show
    • View classic films at weekly film screenings in our dedicated 120-seat film theatre
    • Hear writers talk about their craft and learn from leading specialists at weekly research seminars

    Your future

    This course will be of interest to those who wish to pursue a career in many areas of the arts, creative writing and media.

    A number of our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies graduates have gone on to undertake successful careers as scholars, university lecturers, teachers, publishers, publishers’ editors, journalists, arts administrators, theatre artistic directors, drama advisers, and translators.

    We also offer supervision for PhD, MPhil and MA by dissertation in different literatures and various approaches to literature, covering most aspects of early modern and modern writing in English, plus a number of other languages.

    Our University is one of only 11 AHRC-accredited Doctoral Training Centres in the UK. This means that we offer funded PhD studentships which also provide a range of research and training opportunities.

    We work with our Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

    Entry requirements

    UK entry requirements

    A 2.2 degree in Creative Writing, Theatre/Drama Studies, Literature, Film and Media Studies, Modern Languages , Art History, Music, Philosophy, History, American Studies, Performance studies, Journalism, Law, Politics and Sociology.

    You may be asked to provide a piece of creative writing if you do not hold a degree in a relevant field.

    International & EU entry requirements

    We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

    Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please select your country page where you'll find this information.

    English language requirements

    IELTS 7.0 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5 except for 6.5 in writing

    If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

    Additional Notes

    The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.

    Structure

    Course structure

    We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of core/compulsory modules, and optional modules chosen from lists.

    Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.

    Teaching and learning disclaimer

    Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.

    The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently approved for 2022 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.

    Components and modules explained

    Components

    Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

    Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

    Status What this means
    Core
    You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
    Core with Options
    You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
    Compulsory
    You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
    Compulsory with Options
    You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
    Optional
    You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

    The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.

    Modules

    Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

    In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

    Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

    HR 100  4  FY

    The department or school the module will be taught by.

    In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

    The module number. 

    The UK academic level of the module.

    A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

    A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

    A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

    The term the module will be taught in.

    • AU: Autumn term
    • SP: Spring term
    • SU: Summer term
    • FY: Full year 
    • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
    • PS: Spring and Summer terms
    • AS: Autumn and Summer terms

    COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY

    Dramatic Structure
    (20 CREDITS)

    Want to write your own stage plays? Have an idea of a screenplay? Learn about the range of contemporary plays and possibilities that exist within contemporary drama. Develop your own work, discussing topics like dialogue, construction of plot and structure of scenes within a supportive and creative environment.

    View Dramatic Structure on our Module Directory

    COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY

    Screenwriting Workshop
    (20 CREDITS)

    COMPONENT 03: OPTIONAL

    Option(s) from list
    (40 CREDITS)

    COMPONENT 04: COMPULSORY

    Research Methods in Literary and Cultural Analysis
    (20 CREDITS)

    Are you ready for your dissertation? Examine a variety of research methods and methodologies, building the research skills and understanding needed to complete your postgraduate-level research project.

    View Research Methods in Literary and Cultural Analysis on our Module Directory

    COMPONENT 05: CORE

    Dissertation
    (80 CREDITS)

    Your dissertation is the culmination of your time at Essex. Focusing on one particular topic in great depth, you formulate an urgent research question to be subsequently addressed, either critically or creatively. Your dedicated supervisor will be on-hand to guide you through the process, and our pre-requisite module on research methods will ensure you are fully prepared for the task at hand.

    View Dissertation on our Module Directory

    Teaching

    • Five modules are followed over the autumn and spring terms, and generally consist of ten two-hour seminars
    • An emphasis on practice, experimenting with different techniques to produce work of your own
    • Seminars may include introductions by your tutor, presentations by you, and discussion based on a programme of reading
    • Visiting scholars are invited to speak about their research

    Assessment

    • Four essays of 4,000-5,000 words, usually combining a creative piece and critical commentary
    • There is normally considerable freedom for you to choose the topics of your essays
    • A reflective piece on research methods

    Dissertation

    • You produce a dissertation consisting of a complete play (including plays for radio) under 70 minutes playing time accompanied by a critical commentary (c. 6,000 words) excluding bibliography and footnotes written between April and September.
    • This takes the form of a creative piece and a critical commentary

    Fees and funding

    Home/UK fee

    £9,200

    International fee

    £19,740

    Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

    What's next

    Open Days

    We hold Open Days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

    • tour our campus and accommodation
    • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
    • meet our students and staff

    If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing tours@essex.ac.uk and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

    2021 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

    • Saturday, October 23, 2021
    • Saturday, November 13, 2021

    Applying

    You can apply for this postgraduate course online. Before you apply, please check our information about necessary documents that we’ll ask you to provide as part of your application.

    We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

    For information on our deadline to apply for this course, please see our ‘how to apply’ information.

    If you are applying to a masters course in the department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies you must provide a piece of critical academic writing (2,500 words) on a topic relevant to your application.

    Colchester Campus

    Visit Colchester Campus

    Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.

    The Campus is set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, located two miles from the historic town centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded town. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

     

    Virtual tours

    If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

    Exhibitions

    Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

    At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.


    Find out more

    The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

    The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

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